Our connection to land

The idea of Ubuntu extends to I am my land, my community, my ancestors, my descendents, and the plants, animals and geography of my land.

The idea of Ubuntu can extend to “I am my land, my community, my ancestors, my descendents, and the plants, animals and geography of my land.”

Ubuntu is my connection to my community, I am because we are, but also to the land in which my community lives, to my ancestors in that community, to my descendents in my community, every plant, tree and rock in my community.  I am like a tree anchored in my community, my roots buried deep into the ground, hungry for the life-giving food and water of my community.  Deposit me in Detroit in USA, or Hull in the North of England it is like ripping a tree out of the ground and dumping it in the sea, I am unrooted, I die.

After Chernobyl the authorities evicted tens of thousands of people and deposited them into distant cities, a people ripped away from their native land, suffering extreme social and psychological problems that some preferred to risk the dangers of radiation by returning illegally to their former homes.

The UK-based Guardian newspaper today reports on the animist Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous tribe in Brazil, 34 times more likely to kill themselves compared to other Brazilians.  Ranchers and biofuel farmers deprive the Guarani-Kaiowá of their native lands, to quote:

“The Guarani people think their relationship with the universe is broken when they are separated from their land. They feel they are a broken people.” Many in the community cosmologically interpret their situation as a symptom of the destruction of the world.

I follow the stories of many animistic hunter gatherer people, the story is tragically universal and repeated across the world:

“Many other indigenous communities in the world, including the Tiwi Islanders in Australia, Khanty herders in Siberia and Inuits in Greenland, have unusually high suicide rates. Anthropologists say this is closely linked to the loss of land, which is often followed by social disintegration and economic dependence on charity and state handouts. The result is often alcoholism inside the community and racism outside, which leaves the young – in one man’s words – “stuck somewhere between a past they don’t understand and a future that won’t accept them”.”

In Europe two indigenous people still survive, the enigmatic Basque people, who passionately and sometimes violently defend their culture, and the Sami in the extreme north of Europe.  Both cultures, in my small way, I will support.


14 responses to “Our connection to land

  1. You can add the native Americans and the various tribes in the Amazon to that list.


  2. Reblogged this on Spirit In Action and commented:
    Thank you for posting this. I feel we would all be better off if people relearned tha t connection with land, ancestors, history and all the living beings that share that unique biome. Everything is part of a system and humans are no different. How can we function when we are not connected to all around us? It is no wonder we have so much crime, destruction and unhappiness.

  3. After Hurricane Katrina when so many of those living in Louisiana were relocated and unable to return to their homes I reflected on how I had felt leaving my home state. While I have lived in 4 different states and found some beautiful areas, nothing fit me quite like where I grew up. My hometown expanded and closed off many of the natural areas I loved such as the less frequented areas around the lake, which caused me to move a few miles south where I could again have free access to the water and more access to wild spaces. I feel for everyone who has been relocated from their homes whether due to politics or devastation. We are connected to the land we know best.

  4. [ Smiles ] Something to seriously consider.

  5. Having several family members in the military, I have visited many different places. Two of which housed native indigenous peoples who were misplaced from their attachment to their land through industrialization and tourist attraction. One were the Inuit in Alaska and the other were the Polynesians in Hawaii. Both, if you enter the cities, have high alcoholic rates from the natives and when you are in the city, you see endless streams of them walking about intoxicated and homeless. It hit me harder than anything else. The same can be said of the Aborginals in Australia (I had an online friend once who living among the Aboriginals and he told me countless stories about how they were all addicted to drugs and alcoholism because they have lost their community, they have lost their way of life, their very being and existence). And they are without help. It is maddening and frightening.

  6. I too Alex am passionate about those indigenous peoples around the world who have for one reason or another been evicted from their homelands so that modern day man can profit .. The Native American Indians lands were taken as Gold became a prize above life.. the gold in Brazil is the Rainforests which have been flattened in order the farming of cattle and crops can fill those pockets with more Gold.. The Aboriginals too exploited and ill treated as lesser beings…
    It saddens my heart Alex, That big corporations have no sense of remorse or guilt of wrong doing as they care not for people as they put Profits before People every time..

    No wonder their spirits have been broken and so many take to drowning in the white mans firewater..
    Enjoy your Sunday

  7. Beautiful insights, Alex. I find it a little surprising, the magnitude of these uprooted people’s reactions. Wouldn’t being more connected to the land open them up moreso to the beauty of life and make them either want to make the best of it where they are or relocate? Do you think perhaps it’s an education issue? Perhaps I’m being callous – I don’t mean to be.

    I empathize with their plight; while perhaps not from a community standpoint so much as from a perspective of losing one’s freedom to choose.

    • I can only speak from my own personal experience that when I live in a place a long period of time I identify with the geography, history, people and community, so to go off (I have) and start again in totally new surroundings without any sense of connection to is is traumatic.

  8. Pingback: Into the darkness | The Liberated Way

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